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Murray Journal

Alumna Hits Century Mark

Aug 25, 2016 04:23PM ● By Travis Barton

Murray High’s first graduating class was in 1917. Melba Shaw Mash was born the year before.

Mash, one of Murray High’s oldest living alumni, turned 100 in 2016. As her alma mater prepares to celebrate its centennial, Mash commemorates her own.

"I think Murray is the best place in the whole world,” Mash said.

Mash was invited to ride as one of the grand marshals for the July 4 parade. She was unfortunately not able to participate due to an injury she suffered falling a few months prior to the event.

Mash had three kids who then grew to six grandkids and eight great-grandkids.

“The more you have the less you get,” Mash said with a laugh.

Mash graduated from high school in 1934, before Murray High had officially taken its name.

“They used to have wood floors,” Mash recalled.

Mash said the school was small enough that she was familiar with everyone.

“We knew everyone from ninth to 12th grade,” Mash, who played saxophone in the school band, said.

In 1934 the graduating class was somewhere around 85. The 2016 class had over 500. Saying the area has grown would be an understatement. Mash, who has always lived in Murray, has witnessed the growth over multiple decades.

 “[The school] is still around but it’s all different, all new,” Mash said.

 Simple transportation was different for Mash traveling to and from school. During that time the school was located where Hillcrest Junior High is now.

 “We didn’t have buses so I had to walk from 6400 South with my saxophone and books to the high school,” Mash said.

 Mash said their family swimming pool was the ditch across from their house, built by her father who also served as Murray’s mayor for two years.

 They used to have a fruit orchard next to their home that provided her family’s income for some time. It came in handy during wartime years when there was a military camp in Kearns and all their fruit would be purchased by the army.

 Mash would even spend her honeymoon near Murray. She and her husband headed up into the hills and camped.  

"Times are different, it was much harder during that time,” Mash said.

Her husband went to work for the Murray School District as groundskeeper while she went to work in the school’s lunch program. Mash said it was much easier on her back than pulling lettuce out of crates as she did while farming.

“For three years it felt like I was bent over all day long,” Mash said.

Mash said she worked hard for so many years. She would work out in the fields picking tomatoes with her husband and brother-in-law while also cooking three meals every day for the family.

“I can’t cook anymore so now my kids bring me stuff to eat,” Mash said.

Before her recent injury, Mash would often head down to the Heritage Center to participate in various activities like bingo. She said she would wake up every morning with the same thought, “Gosh, I’m still here. Get your butt out of bed and move.”

As one of Murray High’s oldest alumni, Mash turning 100 has been difficult since she has to have somebody come help her with the house whereas before she would do everything. Mash said she loved to garden and unfortunately can’t do it anymore.

“Look how your life changes, and I hate it,” Mash said with a laugh.